GDMFA 2014


I am a graphic designer who also wants to be a fashion designer. When I was young, I liked to draw women wearing beautiful clothing. And I always received compliments for my drawings.

We can not choose what our bodies look like when we are born, but we can choose our clothes. Our clothes are like our second skins. Clothes can symbolize who we are and who we want to be.

Our body, the way we present ourselves–it’s a form of communication. Our clothing, hair, and body decoration reflect our identity.

Jean Paul Gaultier, Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, 2004

Last semester I was in a course called “Unravel the Code.” The class joined fashion design and graphic design. We were told to design something that connected with the human body. Then we had a series of workshops; one of them was an origami workshop. We were playing with a piece of paper according to some instructions. The activity demanded concentration. When I was folding paper, time flew. I realized that I wanted to continue working in this way.

I drew sketches. I wanted to make fashion products. I drew necklaces, bracelets, and other fashion accessories with geometric shapes and origami features.

Then I started to fold. I tried tessellation, a pattern that is usually made by repeating a regular polygon, which can create sophisticated sculptural shapes. But I wanted to make something more simple and unexpected.

Why bags? I wanted to make clothing, but I did not have the skill for tailoring. The design of handbags did not require as much skill. Everyone needs a bag. I wanted to make bags with a unique structure and behavior.

Living in a high-tech age, I am not very good at using digital technologies in my design. I am not an obstinate, conservative person. I enjoy making physical things by hand. I like to keep my hands occupied. I am not talking about the separation of scientific technology from handwork. In fact, many brilliant designs are the hybrid of high technology and elaborate handwork, such as works by fashion designer Hussein Chalayan.

I have been good at crafting since I was in kindergarten. When there is a pen by my hand, I pick up the pen and draw things with it; when there is a piece of paper nearby, I take it and fold the paper into strange shapes.

I was born in a small city in China. I did not have many things to play with. I was happy to be left alone. I liked to have imaginative conversations with myself. I did not pay much attention to the outside world. I spent my time making things. I made animals, flowers, small figures and strange shapes. All I needed was a piece of paper. I created a fun world by folding paper.

Origami–the art of paper folding–was one of my favorite entertainments as a child. There was something beautiful about this art–the transformation of a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding.

I felt comfortable with folding. Folding paper soothed me. It helped me forget things.

Origami can represent precision, delicacy, imagination, and attention to detail. It can be minimal and complicated at the same time.

Folding is a technique used primarily for surface articulation. A fold provides structural strength to a weak plane, and in repetition can produce a visual effect (like a kaleidoscope).

Bricoleur Bricolage, Zak Group, 2013

I decided to bring origami design to a line of bags. I named my line of bags FACET, which refers to the sharp geometric planes that adorned the exteriors of the bags.

FACET is a line of bags featuring origami-inspired shapes. All bags in this line can be folded flat. My goal is to bring playfulness and flair to everyday living through this line of products.

The bags are well suited for storage and shipping when folded, and serve as a geometric container when not.

I am fascinated by the nature of origami design. The techniques, principles, and concepts of origami can be used in many fields such as art, architecture, fashion, and product design. The potential is endless.

The concept of a fold or pleat is critical to Issey Miyake’s practice. By 1993, Miyake launched his stand-alone brand Pleats, Please. He combined a traditional pleating technique with synthetic fabrics. Vertical, horizontal and zigzag pleating was used to create varying effects and architectural shapes for clothing. His new label 132 5. ISSEY MIYAKE, developed based on A Piece Of Cloth collection, using a mathematical algorithm, folds three-dimensional shapes into two-dimensional forms with cutting lines, then heat pressed the fabrics to produce folded shirts, skirts, and dresses.

Miyake redefined the role of fashion design in daily life, and his concepts challenged conventions.

There are no boundaries for what can be fabric, for what clothes can be made from. Anything can be clothing.

Issey Miyake, Issey Miyake: Photographs by Irving Penn, 1988

With paper experiments, I aim to develop my line of products in new directions, in larger and smaller scales, and with a variety of robust materials, all the while retaining the essential principles of folding, collapsing, and expanding.

I have experimented with many materials in the construction of my bags. I have used materials such as metal, buckram, and vinyl. I have combined a mixture of different materials and discovered unexpected forms.

To begin, I designed a pattern for the bag. The pattern determines the finished shape of the exterior of the bag. Then I laser-cut wood veneers into precise shapes. I glued those geometric wood veneers onto the bag, which was sewn canvas. Veneer provided the firm structure of the bag. Later I found canvas was too thin and looked cheap. It also did not match with the quality of wood. Waterborn by Kvadrat was an interior material usually used for seating. It was durable and soft and had a skin-friendly feel. It was higher quality than the canvas. It was also flexible enough to be folded. Finally, I combined maple veneer with vibrant, colorful Waterborn fabric. The colorful fabric activated the plainness of the maple. These two materials combined to make a multi-faceted bag structure with a neat surface.

On the corner of each wood plate is a small metal rivet that fastens the wood to the fabric. The contrast between cold metal and warm wood illuminates the bag.

The principles of origami I used are very simple; they are reflected on the bags directly. The lines on the bags indicate fold lines. They also become graphic elements on the surface. The modern simplicity makes the bags aesthetically striking.

I played with color, shape and form. Vibrant fabric colors and basic geometric shapes express a flat perspective. Two-dimensional graphic designs become part of the flat concept. Flat surfaces transform into the intriguing three dimensions of the bag.

People are waiting for something that is fun which they feel that we can play together.

Issey Miyake, Miyake Slice-you-Own, 2000

Surprises give you new experiences. It must be painful to live in a world without surprises. But most people repeat the same thing day after day and get stuck in routines. So why not add a little bit of fun to break up the routines?

I want to change the way people perceive and interact with everyday objects. Facet bags add new, playful dimensions to purses, totes, wallets, and shoulder bags. Unlike ordinary bags, Facet bags are fun to use. The moment people unfold a bag they enjoy the happy burst of a surprise. People play with Facet bags the way they play with toys. They can transfer a flat form into a completely different 3-D shape.

Fashion could be seen as flat, 2-D geometric forms and yet, at the same time, could be transformed into 3-D sculptural shapes.

Bony English, Japanese Fashion Designers, 2011

Facet can be thought of as artwork, sculpture, and installation. I like the idea of extending the concept of fashion to sculptural form, connecting fashion and art. Fashion could be an art form in its own right. Facet is functional like other bags. It is the way to bring individuality to everyday living.

It is meaningless to construct something and place it as an ornament. Things must be alive, they must be vibrant and in motion.

Yohji Yamamoto, Yohji Yamamoto: My Dear Bomb, 2010

I made a video to showcase my Facet line of bags in use. The video’s job is to tell the story of the bags; it connects everything together.

What is the story? It’s a story of about fun and playfulness. The spirit of Facet is a spirit of fascination, like the spirit of a child born to play.

Was I born to have fun? Was I born to play? When I hear the voices of children at play, even my body begins to sway.

Songs to Make the Dust Dance, Ryojin Hisho, poem#359, of approximately 1180 compiled by the emperor Go-Shirakawa